I was fourteen when they shot John Kennedy. Stunned, shocked, like most everyone in those days, wondering what it meant, and what was happening. Five years of civil unrest followed, but there was still hope for America. Good men fought for a new vision of the world. But then in April of ’68 they shot Martin Luther King, shortly after he indicated that he would seek the nomination of the Democratic Party. I was enraged: how dare they! I didn’t burn cars like they did in Detroit and L.A., but I and many of my generation were dangerously angry. Robert Kennedy, a personal friend of MLK, calmed a furious nation by saying that he would set aside his concerns for his own personal safety, would run for president and seek to represent those who had just been disenfranchised. Two months later he laying dying, shot in the head by a disgruntled Palestinian, minutes after winning the California primary.

I, and many others, simply gave up hope. If everyone who represented a chance for change in the world was going to be shot, what was the point in hope? Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon fought that election, but what did it matter? We found out years later that both their campaigns were heavily financed by the same man, Howard Hughes, who wanted to keep the war in Vietnam going so he could sell his helicopters – Hughies – to the military. Both men were bought and paid for. It didn’t matter who won. That was forty years ago. Since then American politics has been a disappointing parade of the venal and ineffectual, without vision, without hope, and the nation languished.

Now, after a generation of wandering in the wilderness, hope has returned to America. A new voice is lifting the vision of a decent, caring country once again and the youth of the world, and those of us who are old enough to remember what hope looked and sounded like, are inspired. I know that are are evil men, whose hearts are filled with hatred, who even now are plotting how they might kill him, and put an end to hope. I pray that an Almighty God would frustrate those plans and preserve this fine man long enough to do the world some good.

No one man can lift a nation. But one man can inspire others to join him and many can go where one man leads. I saw it with Kennedy, I saw it with King. I hope that I can say in eight years that I saw it with Obama too.

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